PLANT CITY, FL – DECEMBER 16: Vipers running back Tarean Folston (36) goes thru drills during the XFL’s Vipers Minicamp on December 16, 2019 at Plant City Stadium in Plant City,FL. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Tampa Bay Vipers have an interesting group of players. These Green and Gold warriors will be led by former Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman. The second incarnation of the XFL brings football back to the I-4 corridor. The Vipers look to build upon the success of the Alliance of American Football Orlando Apollos. The Vipers roster consists of a lot of former NFL talent and college stars. This particular article will examine the offensive skill weapons for the Tampa based franchise.
Analyzing the Running Backs on the Tampa Bay Vipers Roster
The running back group of the Vipers consists mostly of college stars. De’Veon Smith is the clear leader of the group. Smith is a product of the Michigan Wolverines and his best season was 2016 in which he rushed for 846 yards with 10 touchdowns over the course of 13 games. During the 2017 NFL Draft, Smith was not selected. He was signed as a college free agent by the Miami Dolphins. During the season, he spent time on the practice squad as well as limited time on the active roster. He only amassed 27 receiving yards on three receptions during this season. The next year he spent training camp with the Washington DC-based NFL Franchise. However, he failed to make the team and was a victim of late roster cuts. As with many XFL Players, Smith was given a second chance in the AAF as a member of the Orlando Apollos. Smith took a back seat to D’Ernest Johnson for the Apollos. During the 2020 XFL draft Smith was selected in the third round. He brings NFL experience and spring football experience to the Vipers. With receiving skills Smith will hope to establish himself as a lead back and be a spark for the Trestman based offense.
One of the most intriguing members of the Vipers roster is Quinton Flowers. Flowers is no stranger to playing football in the Sunshine State as he was born in Miami. He played his high school there before going to the University of South Florida. During his college tenure Flowers, excelled as a quarterback for the Bulls. He is the all-time leader in rushing touchdowns, passing touchdowns, and even overall touchdowns. His best year came in 2016 when Flowers was named the AAC Offensive Player of the year. In 2018, Flowers went undrafted and was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as a running back. He spent the majority of the time on the practice squad but did spend some time on the main roster. The next year he spent some time on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad but failed to make the team. Flowers is listed as primarily a running back but has spent some time working with the quarterbacks. At that position, Flowers got a significant amount of his yards on the ground so the transition to running back seems natural. He might be used in some interest formations such as the Wildcat or in the return game. Flowers is athletic and provides the Vipers with a versatile offensive weapon. Hopefully, the Vipers are creative enough to utilize his talent.
The remaining two current Viper running backs are Jacques Patrick and Mack Brown. Patrick is another Florida born product that played college ball in Florida as well. At Florida State, he spent time backing up Dalvin Cook and then share carries with Cam Akers. Patrick did not spend any time with any NFL team. He was drafted was Vipers in the XFL Draft.
Brown went to the University of Florida. He actually has the most NFL experience as he spent time with five teams over the course of four years. Brown’s NFL highlight was a 61-yard touchdown when he was playing for Washington. Brown was signed a few weeks ago to add veteran depth to the Vipers running back group. Hopefully, Brown is able to mentor the younger talent while getting some carries.